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John Pidgeon

John Pidgeon

John’s writing career began in 1971 with film reviews for the BFI’s Monthly Film Bulletin and a script for a BBC2 Film Night special on pop films, but he also wrote A Guide To British R&B for a publisher who went bust three weeks before delivery of the manuscript John had spent six months writing.

In 1972, having convinced editor Nick Logan that what New Musical Express's gig guide needed was a section on music films, John soon branched out into reviewing the dross discarded at the back of the album review cupboard. He was also encouraged by Clapham neighbour Charlie Gillett to become involved with Let It Rock before the ahead-of-its-time music monthly’s launch in October 1972. His first contribution was a far from comprehensive Eric Clapton discography, but a year later he was editor. By then, on Gillett’s recommendation, he was also writing scripts for Radio 1’s milestone documentary series, The Story Of Pop. While continuing to script documentary series for the network, he also wrote a novelisation of Slade In Flame, a biography of Eric Clapton, and a history of Rod Stewart and the Faces, all for Panther.

He had accompanied the Faces on their December 1972 UK tour to write a roadie’s diary, and roadied again for the band a year later as a replacement for a crew member hospitalised after a fight on the opening date of the tour. His association with the band led to a songwriting partnership with Ian McLagan, which in turn led to publishing deals with Island and Virgin Music. Ringo Starr recorded ‘Tonight’ (co-written for the reformed Small Faces with McLagan), while Runner’s ‘Run For Your Life’ (co-written with the group’s singer and guitarist Steve Gould) was Radio 1 breakfast show host DLT’s record of the week – and was subsequently covered by Sammy Hagar.

While Richard Williams was editor of Time Out, John had written articles on Eric Clapton and QPR’s Stan Bowles, and when Williams assumed editorship of Melody Maker, John returned to music journalism, writing the first major article on the Police in 1978. (It should have been the cover story, but Williams went for the Cramps instead.)

By 1979 he was writing documentary series for Capital Radio, where The Story Of Pop's producer Tim Blackmore was now Head of Music. 1980’s look back at the music of the previous decade, Making Waves: The Sound Of The Seventies, involved weeks in the States recording interviews, including one memorable day in LA when he interviewed Alice Cooper, Emmylou Harris and Norman Whitfield, who kept him waiting while he loudly sacked a band from his label, then dropped by Michael Jackson’s house in the Valley where John recorded himself asking fourteen-year-old Janet Jackson questions which she relayed to her brother before he would answer.

The Sounds Of The City, a musical history of London from skiffle, via pub-rock, to punk, followed, then Ebony And Ivory, tracing the links between black and white music. John also devised and produced a pair of long-running series presented by Roger Scott, Jukebox Saturday Night and The View From The Top. Between 1986 and 1989 he also produced and wrote for Capital’s ground-breaking comedy show Brunch, whose regular performers included Angus Deayton and Jan Ravens.

Following Roger Scott’s move to Radio 1 in 1988, John devised Classic Albums, which he and Scott pitched to the network as an independent production. John missed BBC Radio’s first briefing for would-be independents because he was delivering programme masters of that first series, which opened with Mark Knopfler on Brothers In Arms.

John set up his own production company after Scott’s 1989 death, and John Pidgeon Productions converted from analogue to digital technology at its Kent studio in 1995 and was rebranded as Gilmour Broadcasting in 1996. The company made music and comedy programmes for BBC Radios 1 and 2. John’s personal highlights include: documentaries on Crowded House and Pete Townshend’s Lifehouse for Radio 1; four series of the award-winning Talking Comedy, bringing the likes of Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Harry Hill, Mark Lamarr, Graham Norton and Alexei Sayle to Radio 2; Chic Murray: The Comic’s Comic, presented by Robbie Coltrane, Everything You Needed To Know About Busking with John Hegley, Frying Tonight, a history of fish and chips with Rick Stein, and Spinal Tap: All The Way To 11, voiced by an appropriately deadpan Bob Harris, for the same network.

In 1999, at fifty-two, he was unexpectedly approached by the BBC to run Radio Entertainment, and over the next six years reinvigorated the in-house production unit’s comedy output, nurturing Dead Ringers, Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh, and making Ross Noble a Just A Minute regular at twenty-five. He became a Fellow of the Radio Academy in 2003.

After six years at the BBC, he returned to the real world, and has since produced Music To Die For, a Radio 4 series about the use of music in modern crime fiction, presented by Inspector Rebus’s creator Ian Rankin. In the course of making the series, he met most of his favourite crime writers, and renewed contact with the Police’s Andy Summers, who was name-checked in Robert Crais’s debut Elvis Cole novel, The Monkey’s Raincoat.

Having quit London for Kent in 1987, he and his family moved to a 15th Century cottage and fourteen acres in the Elham Valley twelve years ago, since when the creation of formal and informal gardens, an orchard, kitchen garden, arboretum and vernacular woodland has been a consuming love affair, rather than a hobby. Phew, rock and roll!

List of articles in the library by artist

10cc: 10cc (UK)

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, September 1973

10cc ARE SO damn good, it makes you wonder where they've been all this time. Geographically the answer is simple if drab: Stockport, Cheshire. Musically ...

Chuck Berry's Influence on the UK R & B Scene

Essay by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, April 1973

'DING-A-LING' gave Chuck Berry his only British No 1 seventeen years after his first record release, 'Maybellene'. He had five Top Ten hits in the ...

Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard: Keep On Rockin': Interview with film director D. A. Pennebaker

Report and Interview by John Pidgeon, New Musical Express, September 1972

KEEP ON ROCKIN' is in town, and so is the rock film revolutionary who created this celluloid spectacle of Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck ...

Dave Berry

Profile and Interview by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, February 1973

IT'S VERY EMBARRASSING to be caught out when you haven't done your homework. We hadn't planned much before we met Dave Berry because we automatically ...

Richard Berry (1986)

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, February 1986

The 'Louie Louie' man on pre-rock'n'roll R&B, the relationship between black music and white singers and fans, the double entendre in black music, indies v the majors, and that song.

File format: mp3; file size: 62.2mb, interview length: 1h 07' 55" sound quality: *****

Robert "Bumps" Blackwell

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, October 1983

Songwriter and producer 'Bumps' Blackwell looks back at his illustrious career in pop and R&B: on Sam Cooke and 'You Send Me', Specialty Records and the West Coast indie scene, and at great length about his major discovery Little Richard.

File format: mp3; file size: 41.3mb, interview length: 45' 08" sound quality: ****

The Blues Band, The Inmates, Red Beans & Rice: Basil Brush Didn't Write 'Boom Boom': The R&B Revival in London

Overview by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, December 1979

Okay, so there isn't an R&B revival around the London clubs – but there are certainly a whole lot of bands borrowing their material from ...

Alexis Korner, Blues Incorporated, Cyril Davies, Dick Heckstall-Smith: A Conversation With Alexis Korner

Interview by John Pidgeon, unpublished, November 1971

This is a straight transcription of John Pidgeon's interview with Alexis Korner from November 1971 ...

Alexis Korner, Blues Incorporated, Cyril Davies: Blues Incorporated: How British R&B Trashed Trad

Retrospective by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, September 2009

ALEXIS KORNER'S Parisian birthplace, Austro-Greek parentage, noble features and languid growl endowed him with an aura of exoticism unreflected in his musical partner Cyril "Squirrel" ...

Blues Incorporated, The Rolling Stones: More British R&B: The Stones Start, Blues Incorporated Stumble

Retrospective and Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, October 2009

THE FIRST PUBLIC appearance of what would one day be touted as "the greatest rock and roll band in the world" was hardly headline news, ...

Marc Bolan (1974)

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, 1974

Bolan looks back at Tyrannosaurus Rex and the British underground scene; turning electric and the Beard of Stars album; 'Ride a White Swan'; and ruminates on glitter, image and stardom.

File format: mp3; file size: 21.8mb, interview length: 23' 49" sound quality: ****

Eric Clapton Comes Back

Live Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, February 1973

THE NEWS THAT Pete Townshend had "formed an instant supergroup to back Eric Clapton when the guitarist makes his come-back at London's Rainbow Theatre on ...

Eric Clapton: Return Of The Reluctant Hero

Interview by John Pidgeon, Creem, April 1978

THERE WAS once a movie actor who, having made his name as a heavy, took to playing the romantic lead. But no matter how often ...

Jimmy Cliff: The Harder They Come (dir. Perry Henzell)

Film/DVD/TV Review by John Pidgeon, New Musical Express, July 1972

"The oppressors are trying to keep me downMakin' me feel like a clown" ...

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Profile by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, June 1973

FOR A 'SINGLES' band Creedence Clearwater Revival made a lot of albums: six in two years (1969 – 70), then one as a trio in ...

David Crosby (1989)

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, 1989

The Cros talks about his biography, Long Time Gone (co-written with Carl Gottlieb), his years of addiction and rehab, friends Mama Cass and Graham Nash, and looks back at Woodstock.

File format: mp3; file size: 39.3mb, interview length: 42' 53" sound quality: ****

Cyril Davies, The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones at the Ricky-Tick, January 1963

Memoir by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, April 2009

THE FIRST TIME I hear Cyril Davies blow his harmonica is January 1963 at Leo's Jazz Club in Windsor. As I approach, shoulders hunched against ...

Dr. John: In The Right Place

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, June 1973

MAC REBENNACK'S situation is Jekyll and Hyde reversed. Mac took something and turned into the Doctor, split from his identity as a New Orleans songwriter/session ...

Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Ravi Shankar: The Concert for Bangla Desh (Apple/Twentieth Century-Fox)

Film/DVD/TV Review by John Pidgeon, New Musical Express, July 1972

A SPECIAL PREVIEW BY JOHN PIDGEON ...

The Faces, Ronnie Lane: Remembering Ronnie Lane

Retrospective by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, July 2009

IT MAY WELL have been his 'Song Of A Baker' on the Small Faces' Ogden's Nut Gone Flake that first had me believing that Ronnie ...

Fleetwood Mac (1977)

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, 1977

Mick Fleetwood takes us through a history of the band from 'Albatross' on, and is joined by Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham to talk about the Fleetwood Mac and Rumours albums.

File format: mp3; file size: 29.8mb, interview length: 32' 33" sound quality: ****

Brenda Lee, Connie Francis: Venus: The Role Of Women In Fifties Music

Overview by John Pidgeon, History of Rock, The, 1981

APART FROM the amiable and avuncular Bill Haley, the most memorable figures of the first years of rock'n'roll presented an aggressively sexual, flamboyant, even threatening ...

Aretha Franklin, Dan Penn: Dan Penn

Interview by John Pidgeon, Record Hunter, March 1991

DAN PENN WROTE his first hit ('Is A Bluebird Blue?' for Conway Twitty) at fourteen, and collaborated prolifically with Spooner Oldham, turning out mid '60s ...

George Harrison et al: The Concert For Bangla Desh

Film/DVD/TV Review by John Pidgeon, New Musical Express, July 1972

THE CONCERT for Bangla Desh, an Apple/Twentieth Century-Fox release, produced by George Harrison and Allen Klein and directed by Saul Swimmer, opens at the Rialto, ...

Heads Hands and Feet: Old Soldiers Never Die

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, May 1973

THEY SHOULD HAVE named the album after the opener on Side One. Old Soldiers Never Die suits well enough – they've all been doing battle ...

Humble Pie: Eat It

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, May 1973

HUMBLE PIE ARE your archetypal underachieves. Every album they lay down a couple of tracks that show what they can really do when they set ...

INXS: Kick

Book Excerpt by John Pidgeon, Classic Albums (BBC Books), 1991

Kick and, specifically, the irresistibly rhythmic rock of 'Need You Tonight' turned Australia's INXS into a world-wide success overnight, except overnight success doesn't happen to ...

Michael Jackson: Ever-So-Slightly Wacko: The Day I Interviewed Michael Jackson (via little sister Janet)

Memoir by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, June 2009

IN JANUARY 1980, the gates of 4641 Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino were open, unguarded. As I parked, an Alsatian bounded to the car and bared ...

Michael Jackson (1980)

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, January 1980

John Pidgeon, via a 13-year-old Janet, hears from the King of Pop about how he linked up with Motown, learned about the studio, how he sees his future and his defense of disco

File format: mp3; file size: 9.2mb; Interview length: 10' 01"; sound quality: ****

The Jam: The Rainbow, London

Live Review by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, May 1979

FASHION NOTES first. The band, of course, were in their sharp suits, looking less like matching mods, though, than a good old group in uniform. ...

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson on Aqualung

Book Excerpt by John Pidgeon, Classic Albums (BBC Books), 1991

Aqualung was Jethro Tull's fourth album since the group first gained attention with 'Song For Jeffrey' in 1968. Further hit singles had followed in the ...

Elton John: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, April 1973

THE ONLY SUPERFICIAL sign of the album's French origin is its title, a contrary translation of Truffaut's film Tirez Sur Le Pianiste. Truffaut's pianist was ...

Ronnie Lane: The Bass Player At The Gates Of Dawn: How come Ronnie Lane left The Faces?

Report and Interview by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, May 1975

THERE MUST BE something frustrating about playing bass in a group. Else why would so many want to swap instruments like Ron Wood, go solo ...

Little Feat: Dixie Chicken (Warner Bros.)

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, September 1973

CATEGORIZING ROCK is of pretty limited usefulness. Unlike terms in other music that refer to specific and exactly defined forms, rock labels merely indicate broad, ...

Little Richard: Bumps Blackwell and Little Richard: 'Tutti Frutti'

Interview by John Pidgeon, Record Hunter, May 1991

Written by: Dorothy La Bostrie and Richard PennimanProduced by: Bumps BlackwellRecorded in: New Orleans in September 1955 ...

The Police: Reggatta De Blanc (A&M)

Review by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, September 1979

ONLY A year ago I had to talk the editor of this paper into taking a feature on the Police. I don't recall who got ...

The Police: Outlaws d’amour

Profile and Interview by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, December 1978

THE POLICE are not punk. The Police are not disco. The Police are not heavy metal. The Police are not power pop. The Police are ...

Chris Rea: The Road To Hell

Book Excerpt by John Pidgeon, Classic Albums (BBC Books), 1991

IF ANYONE EVER gets round to compiling a list of the sources of inspiration behind big-selling records, major motorway tailbacks are unlikely to figure high ...

The Rolling Stones: Back Door Men

Interview by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, September 1978

Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman aren't exactly garrulous types. But behind the... er... stony facade lies a commitment which has kept them pumping up the ...

Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stones: The Back Line: Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts

Report and Interview by John Pidgeon, Creem, November 1978

IN A SMOKY CUTTING ROOM on Sunset Boulevard, the entire history of rock and roll flashed before my eyes: Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little ...

Savoy Brown: Band Of A Thousand Changes

Interview by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, December 1972

SAVOY BROWN CAME up on John Mayall's coat tails playing supporting gigs with him at the start of the blues boom. The boom, which occurred ...

Neil Sedaka: Packing Up Is Hard To Do

Profile and Interview by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, January 1975

1. A Stairway To HeavenAs a Brooklyn-born Jewish boy of Spanish descent, Neil Sedaka may have been a typical New Yorker, but he wasn't a ...

Sham 69: Jimmy Pursey: The People's Champ

Interview by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, April 1979

JIM POPS down the betting shop to bung twenty quid on a 10-1 shot in the 3.10 at Newbury, so I give his records the ...

Percy Sledge: The Venue, London

Live Review by John Pidgeon, Melody Maker, April 1979

THE SIMPLISTIC idea that the fundamental difference between country and soul in the Sixties was that one music was made by poor whites in the ...

The Small Faces: Small Faces: Ogden's Nut Gone Flake

Book Excerpt by John Pidgeon, Classic Albums (BBC Books), 1991

WRITTEN, PERFORMED and produced by musicians who, after three years of hit singles, were still not long out of their teens, the Small Faces' Ogden's ...

The Small Faces: 'Itchycoo Park'

Retrospective and Interview by John Pidgeon, Record Hunter, March 1991

The first Small Faces single written by Marriott and Lane, 'I Got Mine', flopped on release as the follow-up to 'Whatcha Gonna Do About It' ...

Status Quo: Piledriver

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, February 1973

THE FACT THAT someone bothered to print the lyrics of Piledriver – there's a title safe from prosecution under the Trades Description Act – on ...

Cat Stevens: Foreigner

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, August 1973

WHAT'S THIS? No Dado? No Samwell-Smith? No Cat Stevens artwork on the cover? ...

The Strawbs: Bursting At The Seams

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, April 1973

THOSE WHOSE acquaintance with the Strawbs is older than a few months must have been surprised by the band's recent form: neither 'Lay Down' nor ...

Sutherland Brothers and Quiver: Sutherland Brothers & Quiver: Sutherlands, Shakin' 'Em With the Rock Liberace

Report and Interview by John Pidgeon, New Musical Express, October 1973

John Pidgeon reports as, ever so slightly, America begins to quiver... ...

Sutherland Brothers and Quiver: Shaw Theatre, London

Live Review by John Pidgeon, New Musical Express, March 1973

IRONICALLY the Sutherland Brothers' first 'major'' London gig since teaming up with Quiver was opened by an acoustic duo, as if to remind the audience ...

Sutherland Brothers and Quiver: The Sutherland Brothers

Profile by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, June 1973

IT'S HARD to figure out why the Sutherland Brothers have managed to remain so little known. Perhaps it's simply a lack of publicity, because as ...

Tina Turner: Private Dancer

Retrospective and Interview by John Pidgeon, Classic Albums (BBC Books), 1991

IN 1983, AT THE age of 45, Tina Turner could lay claim to a handful of hit singles, the first of which had come in ...

Tony Joe White: Homemade Ice Cream

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, October 1973

TONY JOE WHITE just loves to play the ingenu. The sleeve of Homemade Ice Cream has photographs of him "up at Turkey Creek" and titles ...

Wings: Red Rose Speedway

Review by John Pidgeon, Let It Rock, July 1973

PAUL McCARTNEY, it seems, has never been his own man. First he was John's, now he's Linda's, and the difference shows. With John he sparked ...

List of genre pieces

Brian and Eddie Holland

Interview by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages Audio, October 1983

The Motown legends tallk about their partnership with Lamont Dozier; songwriting and production; Berry Gordy; their work with the Four Tops; crossing over to the pop market, and leaving Motown.

File format: mp3; file size: 37.2mb, interview length: 40' 35" sound quality: ****

The 1973 Let It Rock Critics Poll

Retrospective by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, December 2009

THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO, I polled contributors to and friends of Let It Rock, the monthly magazine I edited: what, I wanted to know, were their ...

Memories of the Flamingo Club

Memoir by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, July 2009

ONE WARM SPRING Friday night in 1964, cooling off between sets outside the Ricky Tick club in Windsor, I share a match flame with a ...

The NME'n'Me

Memoir by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, June 2009

IT'S THURSDAY, 6th July 1972. The Guardian lies on the doormat, its front page torn, as usual. I've questioned the paperboy. He says the slot's ...

The Flamingo Club Revisited

Memoir by John Pidgeon, Rock's Backpages, June 2012

I'M IDLING ALONG the High Street in my tan sit-up-and-beg Ford Pop, when 'Whatcha Gonna Do About It' comes on the radio. ...

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